MERS virus in Saudi poses hospital threat: study

June 20, 2013

The deadly MERS coronavirus which has emerged in Saudi Arabia poses a threat to hospitals because it spreads rapidly and carries a high mortality rate, according to a study out Thursday.

An international team of researchers studied 23 cases at four hospitals in Saudi Arabia, which included 15 fatalities, a mortality rate of 65 percent, the New England Journal of Medicine reported.

So far Saudi Arabian authorities have confirmed 49 cases of MERS, including 32 deaths from the mysterious virus.

Since the first recorded case in Saudi Arabia in April last year, the has reported 64 cases of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), with 39 fatalities, a mortality rate of 59 percent.

MERS is part of the same family of coronaviruses as SARS (), which has killed nearly 800 people worldwide since 2003.

The higher mortality rate of victims in medical establishments is a cause for concern, the researchers wrote.

"The rapid transmission and high attack rate in the raises substantial concerns about the risk of health care-associated transmission of this virus," the study said.

Of the 23 cases studied, 21 resulted from direct person-to-person transmission.

"Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection control measures are critical to a global health response," the study said.

The researchers traced the route of infection at the four hospitals where the cases had been found, finding links between family members visiting patients as well as hospital staff.

MERS sufferers exhibit similar symptoms to people infected with SARS, starting with a low-grade fever and a mild cough which may persist for several days before the development of pneumonia. Some individuals also develop , another SARS hallmark.

The average for MERS is four days, with 95 percent of infected people developing symptoms within 10 days, researchers said.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, isolated cases of MERS have been found in Great Britain, Italy, Tunisia and France.

Explore further: France reports new suspected cases of MERS virus

Related Stories

France reports new suspected cases of MERS virus

June 11, 2013
French medical authorities on Tuesday reported two new suspected cases of infection with the SARS-like virus MERS which has killed more than 30 people worldwide, the bulk of them in Saudi Arabia.

France says new suspected cases of MERS virus

June 12, 2013
France's health ministry said Wednesday that a man suspected of having contracted MERS had tested negative for the SARS-like virus which has killed more than 30 people, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

WHO says MERS virus death toll hits 33

June 14, 2013
The global death toll from the SARS-like virus MERS has risen to 33, after two new fatalities in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Saudi announces four new deaths from MERS virus (Update)

June 17, 2013
Four people have died from the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, bringing the death toll from the SARS-like virus in the kingdom to 32, the health ministry said on its website Monday.

Saudi announces four new deaths from MERS virus

June 17, 2013
Four more people have died from the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, bringing the death toll from the SARS-like virus in the kingdom to 32, the health ministry said Monday.

New Saudi death from MERS virus

June 6, 2013
The Saudi health ministry on Thursday announced the death of one of its citizens in the eastern region of Al-Ahsaa after he contracted MERS, a SARS-like virus.

Recommended for you

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.